Give Me Some Olympic Spirit

There is something very noble in the attempt for glory on the world’s biggest stage

By Jeff Epperly

The Olympics in Rio are here! And they are adding to a rather busy summer in the sporting world as we begin preparation for the fall sports season in our valley and across the state.

I have always loved the Olympics. I think of the incredible amount of training that it takes over a long period of time to even participate in the Games let alone win a medal. I have been enthralled with the greatness of the effort, the extreme amount of energy, and the tireless dedication that is required to be counted among the very best in world.

We all know the Olympics are unique. There is a competition once every four years. Imagine a Super Bowl once every four years or the NCAA Basketball tournament or a World Series. Most athletes get one shot at gold in their careers and this very fact produces a spirit of urgency further heightening the intensity of the competition.

In short, the Olympics are really about the moment. This gathering lasts two weeks but most events take place over just a few days. This crazy mindset of dedicating so much time for a single performance in a flash of time is very risky. What if I fail? What if I don’t perform well?

I would say to you that this is exactly why we watch the Olympics. We want to see if an athlete can do it. Can they succeed? Can they perform in that moment that they have been looking forward to for so long? For the world watching, this is great theater. But for the athlete, it is a culmination of so many other moments that led up to that moment and a lifetime of remembering that journey and what it took to get there.

Not everyone can win a medal. But the pursuit of that medal is really the fuel that feeds the passion to take such a chance. The Olympic creed reflects that mindset: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

There is something very noble in the attempt for glory on the world’s biggest stage. As a result, this spirit is contagious and transcendent. The spirit of the Olympics reaches from our local setting, say a backyard, a ball field, or a paved alley way with a basketball hoop to a neighborhood playground or a local athletic facility to a global setting in which the whole world participates.

As we watch, we are inspired by this spirit and its reach can be seen as the fall sports season begins to take flight around the state. The Grizzlies and the Bobcats and the Braves, Wolfpack, Bulldogs, Wildcats, Vikings, Pirates, Cougars, Lions, and Loggers are all now beginning to prepare for their upcoming seasons in a variety sports. They, too, will have an opportunity to embrace the struggle of preparation and fight the good fight of competition as they push to pursue their moment of glory.

The Olympics are special and they are here. I venture to say that they will have a tremendous impact on our young people. And maybe, just maybe, they might have a significant impact on the rest of us as well. We all need to be inspired to do something we have wanted to do, to take a chance, to participate in the game, and to seek the glory of a moment. Now take a seat in this grand theater of sport and give the Olympics a watch. They only come around once every four years.